montana audubon issues - grasslands
Here's an overview of grassland bird conservation issues in Montana. See also our:
Long-billed Curlew Initiative -- opens new page
Native grasslands. Montana holds the most extensive and significant grasslands in the Northern Great Plains (26% of our state). Across the US, grassland birds show the most declines of any group of birds monitored by Breeding Bird Surveys; 70% of these species are decreasing. Native grasslands provide critical habitat for several bird species that are undergoing widespread population declines: Mountain Plover, Sprague's Pipit, Baird's Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspur, and others.
Yet, Montana is blessed with relatively healthy numbers of these species, and careful stewardship of our native grasslands will help to ensure that grassland species do not become endangered throughout their range.
Specific activities and policies that can threaten grasslands include:
- sodbusting of native grasslands to convert to agricultural production;
- oil, gas, and mineral development;
- certain wind farm development which fragments extensive grasslands or causes significant direct mortality;
- unsustainable grazing regimes;
- residential development;
- unmanaged recreational use;
- the introduction and establishment of invasive plants; and
- agricultural practices not consistent with sustaining or enhancing bird populations.
In Montana, our best native grasslands are found in northeastern Montana within North Valley Important Bird Area:
Learn more about our Important Bird Area Program.